Road trip across the North – Day One

Many of the remote places we want to visit in the northern provinces of Spain are only accessible by car.  We booked a vehicle with Europcar and anticipated a smooth departure from San Sebastian.

Unfortunately the boot of our vehicle wasn’t big enough to contain our luggage. We had to put our day bags on the back passenger floor, an undesirable option. We spied another Europcar vehicle in their basement carpark, with a bigger boot, and decided to see if it was available for lease.  As we approached the customer service officer to inquire about making a swap, another customer arrived to collect it  – having just leased it. Was he willing to swap vehicles? As a solo traveller with a small backpack and only needing a vehicle for a few days Stuart was happy to accommodate us. The customer service officer nearly collapsed with anxiety at the thought of us swapping vehicles!  She seemed to think that we were just going to swap keys and head off! No! No! There is first the paperwork that has to be done all over again! We reassured her that we all understood the paperwork had to be done and yes, it would take time.

We removed our luggage from the original vehicle, ready to stuff it into the other. In the meantime Stewart, an American specialist in linguistics (he reads 10 languages) was thrilled to be speaking English and to share, with a new audience of two, the hypothesis that all languages come from a single original language, and that Finnish is the closest surviving language to the original. A pleasant half hour passed, paper work was completed, keys swapped, a Tomtom was issued and we bade farewell.

Given our unhappy experience with an outdated (by 27months) Tomtom on the previous road trip, we checked to see if the one we had been issued was current and operable. It wouldn’t even switch on. Less than happy, I returned up to the office and requested it be changed “No funcionar!”  The customer service officer tried (and failed) to convince me that it only needed charging. New Tomtom in hand I returned to the vehicle, plugged the thing in, punched in our next address and all was good. At which point I went to get travel sweets out of my cabin bag and realised it wasn’t where I thought it was. In fact, it wasn’t in the car at all! It was on the back floor of Stuart’s car, heading north. My heart sank – my documents wallet was in the bag!

Back up to the office I bolted, pallid and nauseous at the prospect of dealing with lost documents. I saw the customer service officer’s face fall as I entered. However, once I explained the ‘disastre’, she sprang into action. Stuart’s contact number was in the USA, so they rang that, received a mobile number, and contacted him. Half an hour later he was in the office with my bag – which he found under the passenger seat.

Back down to the basement carpark I go, wobbly with relief and departed San Sebastian without further drama.

The experience was a timely reminder about what can happen when you get distracted in transit with luggage.